Spain's jobless rate has continued to rise in the first quarter but at a slower rate than in previous years, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said.

The job situation for the entire year "will not be good, but it will be less bad than in the preceding years", he added during a debate in parliament on Wednesday.

"Next year we will have growth and jobs will be created in our country," he said.

Spain's unemployment rate hit 26.02 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, a record high since the re-birth of Spanish democracy after the death of dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975 and the second-highest level in the eurozone after Greece.

The National Statistics Institute will publish the unemployment rate for the first quarter on Thursday.

Spain is in a double dip recession, having never recovered from the collapse of a decade-long property boom in 2008.

The Spanish economy, the eurozone's fourth-largest, contracted by 1.37 percent last year, the second worst yearly slump since 1970, and the government forecasts it will shrink again by between 1.0 percent and 1.5 percent this year.

Source: Agencies